Various: Various

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Alia Vox
ALBUM TITLE: Metamorphoses Fidei
WORKS: Various
PERFORMER: Montserrat Figueras, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hesperion XXI/Jordi Savall
CATALOGUE NO: AV 9849
The ‘Metamorphosis of Faith’ title refers to tranformations of belief as heard through music – the ancient prophetic Sybil who makes an appearance in Valencian church music, the secular world of the chanson as a basis for sacred Mass music, and the dances of black slaves as refracted through the ‘negrillas’ music of their Spanish traders. What we are not told clearly is that most of these tracks have metamorphosed too, from earlier Savall recordings.

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Even so, this new compilation is mesmerising and entertaining. The Valencian Sybil first appeared on the Alia Vox label in 1999 (El Cant de la Sibilla), and is dominated by the haunting, soaring voice of Montserrat Figueras – beautifully recorded. The various works on the chanson Mille Regretz take us to a poised and delicate courtly world (they come from the Carlos V disc issued in 2000). Only the two Mass movements by Morales seem somewhat heavy handed – overladen with instrumental accompaniments. The last section gives us a musical romp (with works from the disc Villancicos y Danzas issued in 2004), rounded off by the Savall family performing the traditional ‘Song of the Birds’. Glossy presentation serves real musical substance. Anthony Pryer